MORE ABOUT HANNAH AND HER DOGS
Like most dog trainers, I grew up loving all animals but found a special connection with dogs. My mother would often take me horse back riding and while she would be getting us signed up for the trail rides, I'd go off to visit with the other animals on the property. When she would find me, I was often surrounded by animals of all kinds. She would tell her friends and our family that the animals must have known I was an animal lover. I still find that I form deep relationships with animals quickly and effortlessly.
I first became interested in training when I brought home my first dog, Amos in the fall of 2014. He was three years old, trusting, smart, and confident. He loved learning new skills and enjoyed spending time with me no matter what we were doing. It was through training him that I learned about clicker training and instantly felt that training dogs was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I started by reading and watching everything I could get my hands on about body language, learning theory, and behavior modification.
I fell absolutely in love.
I left my job working at a children's book publisher as a client services representative and got a job as a receptionist at an animal hospital. I needed to be around animals. While I was there I started teaching myself even more about stress and fear in dogs and was instantly able to experience what I was learning about while watching the dogs dealing with the stress of being at the vet. I did what I could to ease the stress of the dogs and owners while I was there but was limited in what I could do being that I wasn't hired to train dogs. I desperately wanted to help owners better understand their dogs' behavior so they and their dogs could find some relief. It was after about 6 months of working there that I decided to actively pursue dog training as a career.
I began volunteering my time with dogs in foster homes throughout the Twin Cities. I gained a lot of hands on experience with both the dogs at the animal hospital and with the dogs in rescues in a very short amount of time. I focused my work on dogs that were struggling to get adopted because of behavioral issues and on dogs that were on the verge of being surrendered or euthanized. I had connections with a few local rescues who would suggest working with me when an owner would call inquiring about relinquishing their dog. Many times I successfully avoided having dogs surrendered by helping rebuild the relationship between the owner and the dog.
I started my business Loyal Friend Dog Training in 2015, starting with just private training on the weekends and evenings while still working at the animal hospital. Quickly my schedule became overwhelmed with training appointments and I was able to leave my job and begin walking and training dogs full time in the fall of 2016. In 2018 I started a second business, A New Leash Dog Training, with my good friend. We opened a training facility in Edina and began to expand our services. It was a great two years but unfortunately, a series of unexpected events, including Covid-19, caused us to shut our doors and my partner moved back home to New York. These events sparked the change towards a new brand - Common Ground.
February of 2016, I met the dog that changed my life and really made me the trainer I am today. Finn was a Rat Terrier mix who was a patient at the animal hospital. After a few bite incidents at home, his owners felt they needed to euthanize him. I stepped in and offered to take him home. His owners were relieved to find a solution that kept him alive and relinquished ownership. Finn had severe resource guarding issues among many other things. His primary reaction to anything that caused him stress was to lash out and attack. I took quite the beating from him for many months before we started to see any semblance of progress. Unfortunately, after nearly two years of behavior modification, medication, and management Finn was still not mentally stable or showing enough progress to be considered safe. Though he had moments of fleeting joy, he was not a happy dog. We made the difficult decision to say goodbye to him in fall of 2017. He taught me very valuable lessons about living with aggressive and fearful dogs. I will forever give credit and thanks to him for making me the trainer I am today.
I took in Roxy from a similar situation where she had bitten a guest in her home and was going to be euthanized at the animal hospital. Though she was incredibly reactive towards strangers, she is a warm and loving dog. Unlike Finn, Roxy's brain is healthy enough and has the ability to make progress with behavior modification. She has been doing great since we brought her home June of 2016. Because of both Roxy and Finn, I've discovered I truly enjoy working with dogs with behavioral issues like reactivity, fearfulness, and aggression. Today, Roxy can meet strangers in most situations without showing much or any reactivity.
Ollie was surrendered to me early in 2017 from a dog walking client after they got him as a puppy. He hit adolescence like a derailed train and threw his owners for a loop. They asked me to assist in rehoming him and he decided he wanted to live here with us forever. He greets every new person like they are his long lost best friend and I enjoy seeing the delight he brings to people with his antics. His sociability towards strangers and low tolerance for frustration caused him to become quite reactive in his adolescence. Though in his case, his screaming and whining at people was due to desperately wanting to engage with them. He and I worked hard on leash manners, engagement, and impulse control. He's matured a lot now and can remain composed despite still being excited about new people.
Atticus came to me in April of 2018, from a client surrender as well. He is a German Shepherd, Boxer mix who his former family found running loose in their neighborhood. When no one claimed him, they decided he could live with him and hired me to help with his training. He's a very smart, energetic dog and after a few months with him, they were struggling to keep up with him. They surrendered him to me so he could live with dogs more his speed and get more training with me. He grew into quite the gentleman. He is very social with dogs and people, a quick learner, and very affectionate. In the spring of 2020, I decided I needed to consider downsizing my crew a bit. As much as I love Atticus, the fact that he is such a good dog meant he'd be the easiest to find a new home for. His warm nature would be such a blessing to someone so I began looking for a new home. Friends from all over reached out about adopting him, he was loved by so many. I finally decided to send him to a friend who had been wanting a second dog for a while but was struggling to find one that matched well with his current dog. Atticus fit right in and is having a great time with his new friends.
After Finn died, I decided I wanted to pursue a new challenge, Schutzhund. I began researching German Shepherd breeders and found Bauernhof kennls in Kansas City, MO. I worked with her for about a year to find the right puppy and brought home Kamikaze von dem Bauernhof, in September of 2018. She is the challenge I was hoping for. Strong, brave, independent, and fierce. She is the exact picture I had in my head when I dreamt of a German Shepherd. Through her I have completely fallen in love with the breed and protection sports. Kamikaze and I earned our BH-VT title, an obedience and temperament title that acts as a prerequisite for higher levels of Schutzhund/IGP, on October 2nd, 2021.
I acquired my sixth dog, Bauer, a Jagdterrier in the Spring of 2019. He was adopted from the local Humane Society as a mixed breed by a nice family. They ran a DNA test on him and discovered he wasn't mixed at all. Jagdterriers don't do well as pet dogs and now they understood why they were struggling to keep up with him! They reached out to us to see if we knew of anyone who would be able to take him and give him the life he needs to be happy. I have always admired the breed from afar and after meeting him, knew I wanted the Tasmanian Devil in my life. He's been a rollercoaster to work with so far but I enjoy a challenge! The breed is known for being versatile hunters. They can hunt anything from ground quarry to wild boar. Currently we are training Bauer for blood tracking and hope to be able to add his services to our offerings in a year or so. Bauer and I have attended a trial with the American Hunting Dog Association where he placed third in the High Jump competition.
My seventh dog, appropriately named Seven, was adopted from a local rescue organization the Fall of 2019. She was an American Bully who I fell in love with through a Facebook post. When I met her and she "parkoured" off my chest with all 56 pounds of her, I knew she was the right fit for me! Unfortunately, a tragic accident caused Seven to need to be euthanized only three months after her adoption.
Notorious "Biggie" von dem Bauernhof (his pedigree is not posted yet. Here is his sister.) came the winter of 2019. He is a half sibling to Kamikaze and is also training for Schutzhund. I had hoped for a puppy from this litter but ended up deciding to wait. The universe must have had other plans for me because Biggie ended up with me after a friend who purchased him was no longer able to keep him. I have had him since he was about 13 weeks old. I tend to prefer female working dogs but find myself falling in love with his "boyishness". He's a very handler oriented dog, affectionate, and goofy. He enjoys spending time near me, getting belly scratches, or just chewing on a toy. I'm eager to see how he matures.
Cayde was a client surrender that I acquired in the spring of 2020. His owners initially came to me for training because he was showing aggression towards dogs and over resources as a very young age. They were disappointed that the sweet puppy they imagined their future children growing up with was possibly unsafe. They enrolled Cayde in our Dog School program that provided structured socialization for dogs that needed more guidance than a normal daycare could provide. Through this program Cayde's social skills started to develop, his confidence grew, and he became a "normal" puppy. This was great news for his owners and for us. However, as Cayde got more comfortable at home, his aggression towards his owners started to become a problem. His owners worked hard on the new training plan I gave them but ultimately, determined they did not have the skillset to work on such serious behavior modification. Because Cayde showed so much progress in Dog School, I wanted to see what living in a more structured household would do for him. This decision proved to be a good choice because he's shown great progress in a short amount of time. It is still to be determined if Cayde will stay with me forever or if he will be adopted out. He's a very good dog when managed well but not for the average owner. As for now he is loved and welcomed in my home as long as necessary.
Cash is my boyfriend's German Wirehaired Pointer. He is used for upland hunting and waterfowl. He is a great partner during the hunting season and the off season. Through him I've found new respect for bird dogs and enjoy tagging along to training sessions with him and Kyle.
Easy is Kyle's English Setter who is being trained for upland hunting and field trials through the American Field. Since he started his field trial career in Spring of 2021, Easy has place 3rd in Open Puppy at the Minnesota Grouse Dog Association's Spring Trial, 3rd in Open Puppy at Moose River Grouse Dog Club's Spring Trial, 2nd in Open Derby at MGDA's Summer Trial, 1st in Open Derby at the North Country Shooting Dog Championship, 1st in Open Derby at the Wisconsin Cover Dog Championship, 1st in Open Derby at the MGDA Reuel Henry Pietz Derby Classic, 2nd in Open Derby at the Chippewa Valley Grouse Dog Association's Spring Trial and took Derby of the Year in both Amateur and Open for Region 19. Easy has already made a name for himself in the Minnesota and Wisconsin Field Trial clubs in his first year and has a long, hopefully consistently successful career ahead of him still!